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The Rare Eclipse You Don’t Want to Miss: It’s ‘a Blessed Time in the History of Our Solar System’

The Rare Eclipse You Don’t Want to Miss: It’s ‘a Blessed Time in the History of Our Solar System’ Read Transcript

It's unique basically based on its position--

the fact that it's coming right over so many states in the US.

In fact, about a third of all the eclipses that do take place

are not total.

The Moon's disk is not quite big enough

to block out all of the Sun's disk.

So you actually see a circle of light all around the Moon.

But on August 21st, there will be a total solar eclipse

where it's going to get dark.

Eclipses are both interesting scientifically--

we learn a lot about the Sun, particularly the solar corona

during an eclipse--

and it gets people excited about astronomy.

So we're looking forward-- and we

know we're going to get a lot of news coverage

and people are going to be interested.

It's going to be live-streamed on the web.

People are going to be sharing it on social media.

We have satellites up in space, so they'll

be observing the Sun at the same time

that scientists are taking observation of the corona

here on Earth.

So you can combine all that data,

learn a lot about the Sun scientifically.

But also, again, the excitement factor,

just because so many people are going

to get to experience this.

Completely booked, because people have been planning this

for years because we know it.

We know years in advance that it's going to happen.

And then people look at the weather predictions.

Where is the best chance going to be

to have a cloudless, or at least mostly cloudless, day?

And then the people book those hotels.

The path of totality is only about 100 kilometers wide.

It's not very long.

So if you're trying to go to totality,

you really need to get on-- look at your longitude and latitude

very carefully, compare it with-- you know,

there's plenty of resources online.

You can download phone apps that will tell you,

at this longitude and latitude, what will be

the percentage of sun covered?

So if you're trying to get there,

just be warned that a lot of people

are also going to be trying to get there.

So plan ahead because traffic and things

are going to be interesting that day.

And if you can't get there, again, web-streaming--

NASA is going to be doing it.

If you look at the historical weather patterns,

particularly for the Western United States,

the odds are very good that there will be clear skies.

And that's one of the reasons that people

are predicting it's going to be the most seen eclipse

in a long time because the weather potentially

will be quite good.

You'll actually be able to see the stars right

next to the rim of the Sun, and the corona and flares.

So it's going to be a spectacular event.

And, yeah, we've got a group of about 140 people going

with us to the desert of Oregon to view that eclipse.

And one of our other astronomers is going to join me.

We're going to give lectures on the astrophysics of the Sun

and why we're at such a blessed time in the history

of our solar system--

that we can learn a lot of things

that actually help us understand why God's behind it all.

And keep in mind that if you're not

in that path of totality, there's

still going to be a partial solar eclipse

throughout the entire US.

So here in Washington, DC, for example, the Sun

is going to be about 80% blocked.

Now, you can't see that with your naked eye,

but with eclipse glasses or a special telescope,

you can see a pretty cool event where a lot of the Sun

is going to be blocked.

My plan, if the weather is good, is

to take a small telescope that I have

that has a filter, so you can safely

observe the Sun through it.

I'm going to set that, basically,

outside my office in the middle of Kogan Plaza on the GW campus

and just grab anybody who happens to be walking by

and say, hey, you want to see a solar eclipse?

We're going to try to get our telescopes up on top of a hill

where our people will be able to watch the shadow of the Sun

race towards us at about 800 miles an hour.

And when the eclipse is over, you're

going to be able to watch the shadow rush away.

And so that helps because the eclipse

itself is only going to be about 2 and 1/2 minutes.

Enjoy the experience of being there.

The totality only lasts for a couple of minutes.

You get basically two minutes of this.

So don't be fooling around with your digital.

Just experience it.

You know, get on Facebook afterward

and share the experience with a friend.

No, sunglasses are not safe.

The Sun is so bright that you can really damage your eye.

You can literally burn your retina if you look at the Sun

without any protection.

And it's so bright that you need to block 99.99% of the light

in order to look at it safely.

So the only way that you can do that is to get,

basically, solar eclipse glasses.

Buy them from a reputable place--

NASA's website, the American Association of Astronomers,

the AAS.

Their websites can tell you where you can safely

go to get these glasses.

But don't try to look at it with your naked eye.

Our bodies are pretty good.

If it's too bright, we'll look away.


The problem is, during an eclipse,

you have that tendency to want to keep looking.

But what's different now, of course, is the technology.

Everybody has that cellphone camera.

Astronomers would caution you greatly though,

do not try to take a picture of the eclipse.

It's very dangerous.

Again, for that same reason--

looking at an eclipse with an unaided eye.

It's worse if you're trying to look at it through a telescope.

You can really hurt yourself.

So leave the photography to the professionals.

Don't be down looking at your phone while this is going on.

Just experience it.

Just look.


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